Ever since my dearheart entrusted control of his finances to me, I have learned much. The largest lesson is that whilst I lead, I cannot control it all. There are several hurdles that I must overcome to nurture our finances, and along the way I've found several tools to be useful.
Of course I don't want to control our finances with a tight-fisted grip. I value my dearheart's autonomy, and being too exacting with finances leads to financial abuse.
Instead, I focus on tools that empower my husband to make his own decisions, within the safe confines of the bumper rails I set up. My job is to make it so that he can't screw up by accident.
Allowances for adults
There is a crucial distinction between being frugal and being deprived – and it relates to the trap of thinking about spending from a scarcity mindset. The goal of frugality and financial independence is not to pinch every coin, as that way lies deprivation.
Your goal should be to spend a sustainable amount of money that keeps you happy.
How much money that takes depends on countless factors, but mostly on who you are. Some people pursue hobbies that are less expensive than others, others save for infrequent but big experiences like vacations. Some people make it a conscious effort to spend a set amount of their budget (i.e. 25%) on discretionary "fun" things.
Regardless of the amount, it's important to understand that fun money is part of a healthy, debt-free financial situation. (When there is debt, you should suspend fun spending until you've dealt with that emergency!)
However, I can't simply let my dearheart's discretionary spending be wild and uncontrolled. That can lead to lifestyle inflation. Therefore we set an allowance: a specific amount of money each month that each person can spend (or save) as they wish.
An allowance defines a boundary between us, letting us know how much spending is reasonable and how much is excessive. The final number is something that my dearheart and I discuss, but as the woman in charge I have ultimate say over what I think is reasonable. Currently in our relationship I figure $100/month to be reasonable for myself, and $300/month for my dearheart.
Allowances also provide a certain amount of autonomy and privacy to the finances. This is important to avoid financial abuse or friction. As long as my dearheart stays within our agreed upon boundaries for spending, I don't need to know what he spends it on.
There's practical benefits. As a result of privacy we don't need to get into fights about frivolous purchases. We also don't need to worry about breaking things during home repair – we can institute the "you break it, it comes out of your allowance" policy.
Ideally you keep a separate card and checking account for allowances, which allows someone to accrue savings if they so wish. If you instead had commingled the allowance with other funds, it could be hard to tell how much surplus carried over from the prior month.
Forget budgets, understand cash flow instead!
Budgets are awful, and the only reason they're widely proclaimed to be important on the internet is because they're low hanging fruit that everyone can understand. That said, they're notoriously difficult to stick to and are a constant source of friction.
Instead of budgeting I prefer to spend my time tracking my cash flow.
To do so effectively, I command my dearheart to input bookkeeping periodically – every other week, currently. The cadence is one that suits our spending patterns and monthly reviews.
Speaking of, we perform monthly financial reviews where we look at our cash flow for the previous month. I usually employ the two finger method, wherein I compare the previous month's category of spending to two months prior spending. It gives me an inkling of whether we overspent a category or are slimming down on it.
We also once a month create a balance sheet to get a different perspective on cash flow. We do this around mid-month, to be offset from our end-of-month cashflow review. Instead of looking at individual categories, we're looking at our total momentum and growth.
Discussing moderate purchases
Another important habit I've been training my dearheart in is discussing purchases with me before carrying them out.
Obviously many people discuss large purchases: cars, houses, vacations, etc. However, there's a grey area with moderate sized purchases. Electronics? Large bills from dining out? They all add up.
I ask my dearheart to discuss with me any single item purchase greater than $25. It's largely an informational activity, to keep me aware of what's going on, but it also provides a sanity check. If something seems off about a purchase, I can talk it out before my dearheart commits to it.
Tie-breaking in the democracy of two
When my dearheart and I find ourselves at ends over a purchase, I reserve my right as Domme to cast the tie-breaking vote. Within the democracy of two, someone has to be designated as the authority.
It's convenient that in our case, my natural aptitude for learning finances aligns with being the Domme. I enjoy continually improving my understanding of finance, as well as my leadership skills. I try to be a fair hand when it comes to my power, and I even rule in favour of my dearheart's desires quite frequently.
It could easily have gone the other way, where the sub ends up being the expert in finances. In which case, the Dominant would still be the tie-breaking vote. However, the Dominant should first listen to their expert's opinion, and then decide whether to go ahead with their judgement or override them.
Trying for an ideal relationship
During the opening negotiations of our relationship, my dearheart and I deliberated on what values we held. Financial compatibility is one of the higher priority items on our agenda, and it was something we addressed quickly.
Our ideal arrangement is for my dearheart to cede all of financial decisions to me. It gives him peace of mind knowing that his trusted Domme is keeping the ship of finances steered straight. Yet what does that actually entail?
Well for one thing there's the practical concerns. Which credit unions we operate with, how much cash we keep on hand, or who pays which bills. The allegedly boring stuff that gets less attention.
Then there's the exciting large concerns that fall under my purview: where do we want to live, when do we want to go for a vacation, or when do we want to upgrade our computers.
These highlights may start off with my dearheart coming to me with a complaint or a petition. Things like "I want a new graphics card," or "I have a hard time knowing how much money I can spend."
It's my job to sort out what proposals are reasonable, and determine how I can fit it into our broader financial strategy. It's also my duty to determine solutions to financial problems he comes up with.
When it comes to the day to day, however, I want my dearheart to be handling some of the tactical burden. Buying groceries, paying bills, and following up on calls. His ceding of control does not mean he can simply shift the burden of work to me.
Ideally my husband will work to carry out my wishes, despite any reservations he may hold about them. I expect him to be mature enough to raise for discussion any problems he has with my orders, and then to put aside his qualms after we've reached a decision.
Carrying out my wishes should be his top priority once we've already discussed something. If we don't discuss it, then my wishes run the chance of being ill-formed and imperfect.
I don't want blind obedience, but an obedience that initially pushes back to ensure the command is valid.
Without that push back, my commands can fall into the laziness trap and be flawed or incomplete. With scrutiny, they are forced to be improved in clarity and purpose.
That's all specific to our ideal relationship though. What I mean by "trying for an ideal relationship" is simply a two-stage process:
Discuss what your ideals are until you reach consensus, then strive to embody it. Acknowledge that sometimes you will fall short, or your partner will screw up, as we are only human. The ideal is unattainable in all likelihood, but something to strive for regardless.
What I think my current ideal accounts are
If I could arrange my finances overnight to be my ideal, I think they would be something like this:
- Savings account for each person, where their income is deposited and residual cash floats
- A checking account for each, for discretionary "fun" spending
- A joint cash-back credit card, for shared expenses like groceries
- Joint checking for things that cannot be on credit (i.e. mortgage)
- A joint brokerage with a margin account for a taxable emergency fund/war chest
- Health Savings Account, though this does not scale well to multiple people
- Myriad retirement accounts, such as 401ks and IRAs provided by work
One of the major goals of arranging our finances like this is to make it easy to add relationships. Each person still has their individual accounts, but they open joint accounts for when they share expenses such as housing or business. Allowances in the individual discretionary account gives room to purchase gifts for dates, for instance.
Hopefully this article gives you some ideas on organising finances within a FLR/female led relationship. The lessons should be transferable to most relationship structures, though more fleeting/autonomous/disentangled relationships may benefit less so.
Some of these tools also embody aspects of leadership, and there are many forms of leadership I can employ within our female-led D/s relationship. From autocracy to democracy to transformational leadership, I try to find tools that support my chosen style for the time being.